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    Special Needs Populations
    The office is responsible for the planning, development, monitoring and coordination of services for individuals with mental illness who have special needs. Services are offered to individuals who are homeless, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders and trauma-related affects, individuals with one or more of these co-occurring disorders who are also incarcerated, victims of natural or man made disasters, and veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts who have behavioral health needs. The office works closely with local mental health authorities,homeless service providers, mental health providers, the judicial system (particularly judges), detention centers, and the Department of Corrections.Through these collaborations, the office provides mental health and other support services through a continuum of care to ensure an individual’s recovery.Additionally, the office administers several specialized programs.
    Some ongoing collaborations are:
    Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)
    Supported program serves as a major vehicle for providing services to individuals who are homeless with serious mental illness in Maryland. PATH funds are used for outreach, engagement, case management, screening and diagnostic services, consultation to shelters, training, housing assistance, supportive services in residential settings, and mental health and substance abuse services. PATH funded case managers are located in shelters, detention centers, and service agencies, facilitating outreach and access to services in a timely manner. PATH provides outreach and access in urban, suburban, and many rural areas in Maryland. The PATH Program is targeted to service homeless consumers who have a serious mental illness or a co-occurring substance use disorder, who are disconnected from the community and lack the necessary supports to obtain permanent housing.
    The Statewide Shelter Plus Care Housing Program
    began in 1995 through a five-year, $5.5 million Shelter Plus Care grant to MHA from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing to individuals who are homeless, who have a serious mental illness, and their dependents upon release from the detention center, and to those who are homeless in the community on intensive caseloads of parole and probation. MHA’s Shelter Plus Care provides tenant and sponsor-based rental assistance in 21 jurisdictions in Maryland.
    The Maryland Community Criminal Justice Treatment Program (MCCJTP)
    Operating at $1.9 million in State funding, supports specific programs that target individuals with serious mental illness, many of whom are homeless or in detention centers. In collaboration with the Core Service Agencies and local detention centers, the program delivers both clinical treatment and case management services reaching an average of 7,000 consumers annually.
    Trauma, Addictions, Mental Health, and Recovery (T.A.M.A.R.)
    has been offered for more than 10 years to individuals 18 and older who are detained in participating detention centers and have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse with a recent treatment history for a mental health condition plus an alcohol or drug disorder. Funded at over $400,000, Maryland offers the program in eight detention centers and one state hospital reaching nearly 1,000 consumers. In addition to treatment in the detention center, four of the eight jurisdictions provide trauma treatment to inmates re-entering the community.
    Chrysalis House Healthy Start Program:
    Chrysalis House Healthy Start is a program developed for pregnant women who are incarcerated or at risk of incarceration in local detention centers and the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women (MCIW). The Chrysalis House Healthy Start Program is funded with State dollars and a small PATH grant. This holistic program aims to provide appropriate treatment and mother/child intervention to women with mental health, substance use, and trauma related disorders. The program provides services at a residential/transitional facility during the pregnancy and for several months post delivery.
    The Office of Special Needs Populations continues to provide oversight and technical assistance for this program.
    SOAR Initiative:
    SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) is a strategy that helps states to increase access to mainstream benefits for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness through training, technical assistance and strategic planning. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are disability income benefits administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that generally provide either Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance to eligible individuals. Access to these benefits can be very challenging for individuals who are homeless with mental health problems or who are returning to the community from institutions (jails, prisons or hospitals) because the application process for SSI/SSDI is complicated and often difficult to navigate.
    The SOAR Initiative offers strategic planning, a train-the-trainer program that includes use of SAMHSA’s Stepping Stones to Recovery training curriculum, and technical assistance. In April 2008, responsibilities for this Initiative were transferred from the State Department of Human Resources to the Mental Hygiene Administration. As part of this Initiative, the Office of Special Needs Populations will work to form and/or reconvene local and state workgroups, provide training, and collect data for individuals who have previously been trained in the curriculum.
    Behavioral Health Disaster Services:
    The Office of Special Needs Populations has the responsibility for coordinating the delivery of behavioral health services in response to natural and man-made disasters. The Mental Hygiene Administration has been the recipient of several grants from SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including:
    • The KARE Project which provided short-term crisis counseling to assist survivors of Hurricane Katrina who evacuated to Maryland.
    • Isabel Outreach Project which provided short-term crisis counseling to assist survivors of Hurricane Isabel with recovery;
    • Terrorism-Related Disaster Relief which supports program planning, development, implementation, and training to improve the State’s disaster mental health response capacity and collaboration with local jurisdictions. Services include:technical assistance to and training for Maryland Professional Volunteer Corps, culturally competent trainings and presentations  for service providersand general public, inter-agency collaboration, and the development of a data information surveillance network to collect data – HOTS;
    • Emergency Response Capacity grant to assist Maryland’s Mental Hygiene Administration and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration to develop coordinated, All-Hazards Behavioral Health Disaster Plans;
    For more information on these and other projects, contact: the Office of Special Needs Populations Director, Marian Bland at 410-402-8416